NanoSpain conf
Conf 2008
     Instr. For Author
  Thematic Sessions
  General Info
     Travel Info
Nanospain2008 will take place in Bom Jesus Park, four kilometres from the centre of Braga (Portugal).

Practical Info

The human occupation of the region where the Municipality of Braga is located dates back to thousands of years, the first traces of which point to the early megalithic period, when they acquired majestic grandeur. During the Iron Age, the so-called Casto culture was developed, a feature particular to the Brácaro country folk that strategically settled in hilltop forts.

The Roman colonization began around 200 BC and it took root in the early days of our era with the foundation of the former city of Braga – Bracara Augusta. From the fifth century onwards, the barbarian invaders (the Suevi and the Visigothic peoples) brought about complete turmoil to the region, which went on with the Moors until the late eighth century. The resettlement process wouldn’t start until the very end of the following century.

Around 1070, D. Pedro, the first Bishop of Braga, reorganises his bishopric, after which the town and its adjoining area have known a sound development of its basic structures. The town grows around its Cathedral, restricted to a walled and successively fortified core (Kings Henrique, Dinis and Fernando); its size did not expand much.

Map Braga
In the sixteenth century, Braga is a citadel which remains a backwater not influenced by the winds of the Discoveries and the “progress” dominant at the time. D. Diogo de Sousa (a distinguished Archbishop), a man with Renaissance ideas, is going to transform it in such a way that one might speak of it as a refoundation, and so the new Brácara has remained almost unaltered until the nineteenth century.

An atmosphere of religious devotion is associated with the period between the middle of the sixteenth century and the first decades of the eighteenth century, according to the flow of religious communities that will erect Monasteries, Convents and Churches, successively erasing the buildings of the Roman style and influencing the civil architecture by covering the façades of houses with latticework.

In the eighteenth century, Braga revived and boasted a good record in flowery Baroque, featuring the Archbishop of the House of Bragança and the artistic genius of Architect Andre Soares (1720 – 1769), who for all eternity gave Braga a formidable gift, a real landmark of the Baroque in Portugal. With Engineer and Architect Carlos Amarante (1742 – 1815), the end of the century witnessed the transition to the Neoclassical.
The following century brought with it sources of conflict and destruction (the French invasions and the liberal struggles); and in the second quarter flowed the money and the taste of the brasileiros (Portuguese emigrants who have returned from Brazil). Some “improvements” are introduced in the town as to infrastructures and equipment, and the civic centre abandons the traditional Cathedral zone moving on to the Public Garden, nowadays called Central Avenue (“Avenida Central”).

The journey through the twentieth century has consolidated and implemented new tools for the development of the city (water, sanitation, transport etc); regarding edifices constructed and worthy of note is the building of the Teatro Circo and a host of façades up the east top of Avenida da Liberdade (“Liberty Boulevard”).
The post-revolutionary period brought about an enormous development at all levels (demographic, economic, cultural, urban) and Braga has most probably become the third largest city in Portugal.

As regards architectural intervention and in spite of its contemporary nature, still worthy of note are the Carandá Municipal Market and the Exhibition and Sports Centre, buildings of paramount importance in the context of the Portuguese Contemporary Architecture. On the other hand, there has been a permanent and wise intervention on behalf of Braga’s splendid architectural heritage.